Chapter 1.

2652 Words
Ash poured yet another glass of whiskey down his throat, numb to its flavour by now. Sometimes, being an Alpha was a curse. An Omega would have been already drunk. An Omega could have forgotten… He threw a tip for the bartender on the bar top, instantly getting his next drink and decided to look for a more secluded spot. The night was young, and he couldn’t leave yet, per his Queen’s orders, but mingling wasn’t an option either. Lazily, Ash walked through the towering archways of the grand hall, his eyes momentarily drawn to the red and blue colours of decorations symbolising the Western and the Northern Lycan Kingdoms, respectively. After all, it was an event celebrating their Alliance that has lasted for over three years now. He pulled in a slow breath, his discomfort writhing under his skin like a snake. Just one night surrounded by other Alphas, Lunas, and Betas, and he could go back to his life in solitude. He moved through the room with a grace that betrayed none of his reluctance, avoiding direct eye contact with anyone until he found a wall to lean against. Luckily, it was right behind a massive marble column. The perfect hideout. The vibrant celebration annoyed him. It was overly vivid for his weary gaze and excessively showy, borderline gaudy. He hated it already. It was the undercurrent of obligation keeping him there, the invisible shackles of duty that weighed heavier than he liked to admit. These days, Ash was questioning if staying an Alpha was right for him at all. Maybe it would have been better to step down… A familiar scent reached his nostrils, and he closed his eyes because it had to be one of the desserts. He had tried, on numerous occasions, to see her for the past year, but he was denied the opportunity each time. Even Riannon and Savannah couldn’t do anything about it, so he’d lost hope. It was just a dessert— Vanilla and blossoms. It couldn’t have been her. His eyes searched for the colour now etched in his soul, scanning the crowd, but he did not see her. Check again, Thor said via their mind link, and Ash straightened his back, shocked to hear his wolf’s voice in his head. It’d been a while. False alarm, buddy, he tried to sound reassuring. I am sorry. Check. Again. Thor insisted, ignoring everything else. Ash decided to stroll around the room just to appease his weakening companion. After all, it cost him nothing. He’d barely made two steps when he saw her… Two heavy doors opened, and in she came, blush pink curls blown by the wind. Petra. His ex-wife. *** Petra blew out a nervous breath, aware that this was her final opportunity to exhibit any signs of weakness. The instant she entered the celebration, she would have to be an Alpha. Not just an Alpha, the Alpha, Vesta, her wolf, corrected her. Right. Petra’s lips curled just a little, but as the tall doors before her opened, her smile dropped. She raised her head high and stepped into the hall full of the highest-ranking shifters of, not one but, two kingdoms. Her stride was confident despite the ridiculously tall heels. Her gown, a soft hue of pink tailored with sharp edges and firm fabric, exuded both grace and authority. Silk thread embroidery wove intricate spirals across her bodice and down one arm while a flowing cape cascaded down the other, swaying with each new step. Heads turned, but she ignored them all. As a newcomer, Petra anticipated recognising only a few of her late father’s acquaintances at this event, if any. So, when the initial intrigue over her striking appearance waned, she felt the urgent need to find purpose in the room to avoid seeming like a loner. Lone Alphas were not well-regarded, and she knew she would soon have to fight with men who believed they were better suited to be the Alpha of her pack than her and that they deserved to rule in her stead. Some had already sent her invitations asking Petra to become their Luna. Or else. Petra scrunched her nose at the thought. Little did they know that she kept all the letters for the time when she would be able to answer each suitor in the manner they deserved. “A glass of rosé, please,” she asked the bartender, and he nodded at her, quickly retrieving her drink. “Excuse me, may I ask who the lucky Alpha is to have such a gorgeous Luna?” A tall, broad-shouldered man appeared right next to her. His hair was too slick with gel, and his gaze roamed over her with the hunger of one who hadn’t feasted in ages. He was trying too hard, which could mean only one thing. He was a new Alpha, just like her. “No one.” Petra accepted her drink and was about to leave because that conversation was a waste of time. New Alphas often had trouble keeping their spots. In a year, this guy could be dead. “Splendid,” the man grasped her arm before she could escape and stretched his lips into a grin, trying to pull her closer. “Then I call dibs.” A few men behind him burst out laughing, and Petra forced a little smile onto her face, still hoping to resolve this quietly, so she could get to business. “Unfortunately, I am not looking for a partner, but thanks for—” She tried to brush him off, but his grip tightened. “Candy, can I call you Candy?” His voice rasped. “No,” she replied firmly. “But you look so delicious,” he smirked, and his buddies chuckled again, finding it hilarious. “Still no,” Petra retorted, changing her tone to an Alpha command. {Now, let go of me.} The man’s lips twitched, almost releasing her. “Come on,” he smiled nervously this time, realising he had chosen the wrong girl to toy with tonight. “You must be some Alpha’s daughter. Any father would be happy to merge their packs with mine. I am—” {Let. Go.} Petra commanded, his fingers unclenched, freeing her. The unfortunate Alpha and his friends weren’t laughing anymore, noticing the audience around them. Everyone was curious about a tiny she-wolf dominating the big bad wolf. “b***h!” The guy with gel hair spat the words out. “Funny, I don’t remember asking for your name.” Petra sneered and turned on her heel, ready to finally end the show. “You have a big pink mouth!” he snarled in response, and she knew that this would end badly. For him. “You would look good with my c*ck between those luscious lips.” He asked for it, Vesta growled, and Petra turned back, narrowing her eyes. Hardly a second had elapsed and the Alpha found himself suspended in the air. A move of Petra’s finger made him turn upside down. Another second and his belt unbuckled, pants sliding up to his knees, defying gravity. “What the hell?!” Hair Gel yelled, but none of his buddies rushed to his aid, realising what they were dealing with. A Changed One. And a powerful one at that. None of the other Alphas or Lunas dared to interfere. These were the unspoken laws now. Everyone had to be cautious with the Changed Ones because it was hard to tell how powerful they really were. Petra slowly approached the man who was still struggling against the grip of her telekinesis, his c*ck limp and everyone watching. “Unimpressive,” Petra smirked, tilting her head. “I pass. Also, there is a pimple or something, and it looks infected. You should get that checked before offering it to people so freely.” She sipped her drink and pivoted on her heel, allowing the Alpha to drop to the ground. Loud swearing followed, but she ignored it. That was enough drama for one night; although, in the end, it all worked in her favour. Now, she would be able to make a few new Alpha friends for sure. *** Ash watched his ex in awe, amazed by the confidence with which she handled it all. He always knew she was strong, but now she was shining like the rare diamond that she was. It made him proud and sad at the same time. She was doing fine without him. He was a mess, but she didn’t even look sad. Alpha Rick Marrow jumped to his feet, pulling his pants back up, his eyes glazed as he clearly communicated with someone via the mind link. Ash finished his whiskey and pushed off the wall. Three men charged at Petra, who was still walking away and hadn’t seemed to notice the incoming attack yet. Ash was not going to take any chances. Maybe she did not want him anymore, but he would never let anything bad happen to her. He intercepted them, dislocating the knee of the closest wolf with a precise kick, breaking the arm of another and throwing them both into a nearby table with drinks. Rick almost managed to grab Petra’s hair as she was turning to meet his claws, but Ash was already there, catching his hand and crushing the bones in his fist in a fit of rage. “No one is touching her!” he growled so loudly that even some Alphas in the room lowered their heads. “Sh*t!” Rick hissed from the pain, and Ash threw him back against his friends , simultaneously thinking he wouldn’t last as an Alpha for more than a year. How pathetic. “Fenrir’s grace—” Petra whispered the name of her Wolf God, and Ash regretted not shaving today. This wasn’t how he wanted to meet her after almost two years. He slowly turned to face her, trying to smile but only making his jaw tick as a result. He probably stunk of whiskey, too… How unfortunate. Mate! Thor growled in his mind. “Uh… Hi,” Ash tried to think of what to say as he stared into the eyes that he loved with all his heart. “Excuse my intervention. I am sure you could have handled it yourself, but I couldn’t just stand and watch. So—” Petra’s brows went up, her lips parting in shock as her gaze studied him. Did he look that bad? At least he took a shower today. “Mate,” she whispered, tears welling in her eyes. “What?” Ash was barely able to say a word. What was she doing? Was this some sort of cruel revenge for his past mistakes? “Mate!” Petra repeated, a bit louder this time. Her hand covered her mouth as if she tried to stop herself from repeating it. Ash sighed heavily, watching tears run down her cheeks. She was still his Petra; still the same kind-hearted and breathtaking girl he’d seen at the auction that day. “We are mates, aren’t we?” she said, puzzling him. Maybe he was drunk, after all. “Of course we are,” he replied, voice hoarse. “What is your name?” she asked, and the whole world turned upside down. Ash stared at the woman he’d loved for years, the woman who had made him the happiest man alive and also the one who had broken his heart into a myriad of pieces. He stared and realised one very important thing. Petra had no idea who he was. She did not remember him. ***ALMOST 2 YEARS AGO*** Rain poured outside, lightning slashing the sky as Ash watched his wife clenching her fists before him. There was a new kind of determination in her eyes and for some reason it frightened him. “I can’t do this anymore,” she said, lips trembling. “Petra, what do you mean?” He stepped in her direction, but she immediately backed into the door. “This isn’t working, Ash. I guess sometimes being mates is not enough.” She blinked away the tears, and he tried to reach for her, but she shrank back. “Petra, I’m sorry I’m late,” he tried to reassure her. “It was an emergency and—” “It’s always an emergency!” she interrupted, shaking her head. “You failed me, Ash. As a husband, as an Alpha, and as my mate.” He would have felt better if she’d slapped his face. “I tried so hard, worked so hard, but it was never enough for anyone!” Petra finally burst into tears. All he wanted was to hug her and help her calm down. Surely, she’d just had a stressful day. It couldn’t have been that bad. “Petra, I love you—” He was afraid to move any closer, trying not to scare her off. “It’s me. Your Ash. Talk to me. We can work this out.” “I can’t do this anymore!” she screamed, and the sound made Thor anxious inside of him. “Listen—” He stretched his hand as if trying to hold her back from what he thought she was about to say. “I, Petra Jones-Biernat, reject you, Asher Jones, as my mate and Alpha.” ANNOUNCEMENT Dear readers, I want to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude for your constant support over the past two years. Your encouragement and love have played a significant role in shaping me into the writer I am today. It is a bittersweet moment for me. The time has come for me to explore new platforms and expand my horizons as a writer. I am incredibly grateful to Dr.eame for providing me with a nurturing environment to grow and share my stories. However, in seeking stability for myself and my family, I have made the decision to make the rest of my current ongoing books available on the I.n.k.i.t.t app through subscriptions. The subscriptions start at $3 per month. Both His Shadow Luna and The Forgotten Bond will be updated there, and you can expect 8-12 updates per month(currently, I update 2 chapters of HSL and 1 chapter of TFB per week). I have tried my best to keep the subscription tiers as affordable as possible, ensuring that even the lowest tier costs less than the coins for the same amount of chapters here. I understand that not everyone may be able to afford this, and I want to assure you that all my books will be made available on sss and k****e in the future. In addition, I have added special perks to the higher subscription tiers, including signed special edition books. Please know that I will really miss this space. This decision has not been easy, but it is one that I have made with the utmost consideration for the well-being of my children and family. As immigrants in the UK, we don’t have any support system. After extensive research, I truly believe that this is the best course of action for us right now. I kindly ask for your understanding and support during this transition. I hope to see all of you again on the I.n.k.i.t.t app, A.m.a.z.o.n or my group Marissa Gilbert’s Reading Circle, where we can continue this beautiful journey together. I still have many surprises ahead for all of you. I also want to thank all the people who already subscribed. You are changing my life and it means everything to me. Thank you so much for your kindness! With all my love, Marissa Gilbert. P.S. We are still talking about a non-exclusive contract for this app, but I don’t know when and if it will be happening.

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